A judge has banned a mother from breastfeeding because she got a tattoo. The judge ruled that the woman’s decision to get it four weeks earlier exposed her 11-month-old baby to an unacceptable risk of harm.
The judge’s decision to grant an injunction to stop the woman from breastfeeding her son comes despite the mother recording negative results on hepatitis and HIV tests. Judge Myers said there was still an unacceptable risk to the baby because the tests were not conclusive.
The case came before the court because the baby’s father raised concerns about the mother’s tattoo during a bitter parenting dispute.
The decision has shocked breastfeeding advocates like Dr Karleen Gribble from the University of Western Sydney.
“I think if it were reasonable then we would have very, very many women in Australia who would be quite horrified and perhaps child protection authorities should be taking action because many mothers who are breastfeeding get tattoos — very often of their children’s names,” she said.
Chief executive officer Rebecca Naylor from the Australian Breastfeeding Association said she is worried a dangerous precedent could be set.
“Tattooing is a regulated industry, so if you go to a tattoo parlour that is reputable then the chances [of contracting an infection] are very low,” she said.
“I think unless there’s evidence that she has contracted an infection as a result of that tattoo, then it is unreasonable.
“Tattooing in and of itself, as long as it’s done in reputable way and that the infection control procedures are followed, the risk is low and so no, we would absolutely encourage women who have had tattoos to breastfeed their babies for as long as they choose to.”
Ms Naylor also flagged broader concerns about the wider implications of the ruling, saying it raised questions about a judge’s right to control the risk taking behaviours of women.
“Does that mean that women who expose themselves to any sort of risks around the contraction of a blood-borne virus… shouldn’t be allowed to breast feed?” she said.
“Of course we have to consider the risk to babies, and I’m not in any way dismissing that.
“Women do need to be careful. “They’re feeding a child, it’s going to be their main source of nutrition up until they’re 12 months of age, so you do have to be careful.
A full bench of the Family Court has agreed to hear an urgent appeal against the ruling in Sydney tomorrow. Read the complete story at ABN News (source abc.net.au).